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Armenia: New and old traditions mix on St. Valentine's Day

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Founded in 301 AD, Armenia’s longest surviving institution, the Apostolic Church, is considered the world’s oldest national Christian order. But, over 1,700 years years later, pagan traditions remain alive in the country even if now absorbed into the Christian calendar. While much of the world marked St. Valentine's day, Armenians also celebrated one such tradition — Trndez.

In addition to introducing tourists to another holiday also celebrated in February, the Envoy Hostel Blog provides a background to Trndez and posts some photos of how the day was marked by guests and staff.

Trndez (Candlemas) is another popular Armenian holiday, dating back to pre-Christian times; it was connected with the fire/sun worship and thus coming of the spring and fertility. […] The main partakers of the feast are newly-married and loving couples who jump over the bonfire. It’s believed that the evil will be swept away and happiness will come to people’s homes. The ceremony is followed by traditional songs and dances around the fire. People also light candles from the blessed fire to take them to their places and keep them till the next holiday of Trndez.

Ezhenka [RU] posts a photo of a Trndez fire saying that she was “present today at the charming and remarkable Armenian holiday of Trndez,” during which individuals or couples circle or jump through the flames. Christian or not, Haykuhi [AM] provides her readers with the holiday’s current interpretation.

Տյառնընդառաջ նշանակում է «ելնել Տիրոջն ընդառաջ»: Ժողովուրդն այն անվանում է նաև Տերընդեզ, Տըրընդեզ, Տըրընտես, որոնք «Տերն ընդ ձեզ» արտահայտության ձևափոխված տարբերակներն են:

Հայ Եկեղեցին Տյառնընդառաջը տոնում է փետրվարի 14-ին, Քրիստոսի Ծննդից՝ հունվարի 6-ից քառասուն օր հետո:

Տյառնընդառաջը Հայ Եկեղեցում հանդիսավորապես տոնվել է դեռևս վաղ շրջանում: Այս մասին [է] վկայում… Մովսես Խորենացու Տյառնընդառաջ տոնին նվիրված շարականը:

“Tearnendarach means “come before God.” People call it also “Terndez, Trndez, Trntes,” which are different variants of “God be with you.”

The Armenian Church celebrates Tearnentarach on February 14, forty days after the birth of Christ, January 6 [in the Armenian tradition].

Tearnendarach has been officially celebrated by the Armenian Church since early times. This is testified by…a hymn devoted to Tearnendarach [written by the 5th century] historian Movses Khorenatsi (Moses of Choren).

Armenia.ru [RU] posts a description of the tradition.

Трндез (Տյառնընդառաջ в переводе с армянского — «Встреча с Господом») появился еще в дохристианской — языческой Армении. В те далекие времена армяне поклонялись огню… Смысл праздника был в том, чтобы усилить тепло солнца, воздействуя на холод с помощью огня.

Trndez (Tearnendarach meaning “Meeting with God” [in its Christianized form]) existed in pre-Christian pagan Armenia. In those old days Armenians worshipped the fire … The holiday meant to strengthen the heat of the sun, influencing cold with the help of fire.

Meanwhile, St. Valentine's Day did not go unnoticed in Armenia with Unzipped: Gay Armenia reporting that a new tradition was also introduced.

To mark Valentine’s day, Brabion Flora Service in Yerevan initiated an unprecedented PR action. They announced that all men who will be at their flora salon at 2 pm local time in swimwear or underwear only, will get a free bouquet. The organisers expected 1 or 2 men to turn up, but there were 10 or so there.[…]

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Trndez, Oshagan, Aragatsotn Region, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 1999, Licensed under Creative Commons

4 comments

  • sy

    Awesome post. Thank you!

  • Araksya

    Thanks to both journalists for such interesting issues.I think everybody will see the same traditions that we two neiboughring countries have:growing sprouted wheat, jumping over the fire,colouring eggs,setting the holiday table,etc.I’ve also mentioned the similarity betweenTrndez and Novruz:the arrival of spring and asking for the sun warmth with the help of fire.I loved the Earth’s words:”I’ll feed you and amaze you,all you need is to take care of me,love me and enjoy,but…”These words must be credo for all people.Let’s be friends,I hate war and I’m tired of my mother’s tears when she speaks on the phone with her friends.collegues and pupils from Baku-tears of nostalgue.Let the coming spring 2009 bring us joy and happiness.Araksya Tsaturova

  • […] and noted the similarities between the holiday and her own Trendez, another Zoroastrian holiday absorbed and changed by the Church when Armenia adopted Christianity in […]

  • […] was full of some encouraging remarks from Armenians who noted the similarities with their own Trndez. Once also a pagan festival with Zoroastrianism, it’s possible that the origins of both are […]

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